Is a Spreader Graft Necessary to Fix Nasal Valve Collapse?

I had a previous rhinoplasty where a dorsal hump was removed leaving me with a collapsed internal nasal valve. The doctor said he would use a closed approach to fix my problems. He said he does not used spreader grafts, rather he uses another type of graft to support the sidewall of the nose. It seems that all of the articles I read say that this type of problem calls for a spreader graft. Is it unusual not to use one? Also would this graft would improve the crookedness of my nose as well?

Doctor Answers 31

Nasal Valve Collapse, Spreader versus Onlay Graft

The question you ask is simultaneously both simple and complicated. The essential truth is that both grafts will help with correction of a crooked nose and both will help with functional problems. However, there are subtle differences between the 2 options.

Difference #1: Approach

I do spreader grafts through a closed approach typically, but many surgeons will only place them using an open approach. If an open approach seems like too much surgery for a single graft, then many surgeons will use an onlay graft instead, which can always be done closed and is technically much simpler.

Difference # 2: Airway affect

If your nasal sidwall collapses when you inspire, then too much cartilage was removed at the first surgery and you probably need an onlay graft more than a spreader graft. A spreader graft will lift and support the cartilage but not strengthen it.  An onlay graft will add strength to the underlying cartilage that is weak by helping to stiffen the sidewall. Conversely, if your valve is narrow but not collapsing, a spreader graft is a better choice becuase it actually lateralizes the canopy cartilage, opening up the airway. In more extreme deviations with collapse, I will often use both a spreader and an onlay.

Difference # 3: Cosmetic effect

A spreader graft will give more subtle deviation correction and it tends to add width only paradorsally (that is closer to the center of the profile). I personally like this cosmetic effect more than the effect you see with onlay grafts. Onlay grafts add width in the entire nasal sidewall, which results in a slightly wider looking nose with less shadow contrast. However, for more extreme nasal deviations, onlay grafts give bigger corrections and are a little more predictable. Again, sometimes I will use both in a single patient.


Besides these differences, there are other technical ones that are less important, such as donor cartilage availability and swelling after surgery. All in all, neither is a bad choice. If you are using a reputable surgeon with a good track record of success, then follow their suggestion, as it is probably based on their impression from your examination.

Best of luck

Manhattan Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

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Spreader grafts for nasal valve narrowing.

There are many ways to improve breathing when the cause is pinching or narrowing of the side walls of the nose. Spreader grafts are thin slivers of cartilage placed or sutured between the edge of the septum just below the skin and the flat cartilaginous plate supporting the side wall of the nose. Although spreader grafts are popular, they are not the only way. It is far easier to place them using an open approach. This is complicated surgery and you should get a second opinion.

Oakley Smith, MD
Toronto Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

Spreader Graft Often Used for Internal Nasal Valve Collapse

A collapsed internal nasal valve is often repaired with a spreader graft. I personally place these with and external approach but it can be done closed as well. A batten graft may be used as well. These are usuallly used to repair an external valve collapse. The terminology can be confusing and the surgery is quite specialized. If your surgeon is experienced trust their recommendation.

Thomas Buonassisi, MD
Vancouver Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 64 reviews

Rhinoplasty procedure

It is not unusual to use spreader grafts for patients who have nasal valve collapse. These cartilage grafts can also be used to straighten the nose. It is difficult to correct this problem through a closed approach, and you may want to seek a second opinion.

Michael Sullivan, MD
Columbus Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 49 reviews

A Deviated Septum is not the only cause of Nasal Airway Obstruction.

It appears that you may have had some collapse of your internal nasal valve after the initial surgery.  However, nasal airway obstruction may be due to a number of causes.  A deviated septum, enlarged turbinates, or valve collapse are all culprits of poor nasal breathing.  It is important to obtain a thorough exam by a rhinoplasty specialist to determine the cause of your poor nasal function. 

Spreader grafts can help internal nasal valve collapse.  However, there are a number of other grafts that can also improve the internal valve such as splay grafts, butterfly grafts, etc.  The type of graft used will depend on the remaining cartilage (septum, ear, etc) that may be available, the comfort level of that surgeon with that technique, and the severity of the valve collapse.  The external nasal valve should also be thoroughly evaluated to assure this does not also need to be addressed.

Etai Funk, MD
Houston Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Rhinoplasty for Nasal Obstruction

The answer to both of your questions depends upon what is in fact causing the nasal obstruction. There are several different causes to this and can include a deviated septum, turbinate enlargement, or valve collapse.  Valve collapse can further be classified into the external valve and the internal valve.  A spreader graft will not help in all types of valve collapse, so you must have a thorough nasal examination by a nose specialist in order to determine this.


Regarding you second question about wether or not a spreader graft will correct a deviation in your nose; this too will depend.  There are several causes for deviation of the nose, and it usually is a combination of different factors.  A spreader graft will NOT always correct deviation. Again, a thorough physical examination by a rhinoplasty/nose specialist will help discern the answer.

Jacob D. Steiger, MD
Boca Raton Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

Spreader grafts, rhinoplasty

Spreader grafts are great. They help people breathe by opening the internal nasal valve. Interestingly enough, the concept for breathe-rigth nasal strips is based on this idea. They also help support the middle portion of the nose, quite well I might add. All plastic surgeons that I know and have been trained by use them routinely.

Srdjan Ostric, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon

Correction of internal valve collapse

Spreader grafts are the best (but not the only) way to correct internal valve collapse.  It all depends on the anatomic findings in the inside of your nose.  Does using breathe right strip help you? if yes, then that is very strong indication that you have internal valve collapse.  Generally for very narrow internal valves (or collapse), spreader grafts placed via the open approach are recommended. Hope that is helpful, Dr. Vartanian

A. John Vartanian, MD
Glendale Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Nasal spreader grafts to improve breathing

Hi 11704 in Lindenhurst,

Rhinoplasty has many potential maneuvers to achieve desired results. In addition, every surgeon has different methods to accomplish the goal. Spreader grafts are commonly used to improve a narrowed internal angle. Spreader grafts may be placed via an endonasal (closed) approach, however, I think most rhinoplasty surgeons use an open approach. Your rhinoplasty surgeon may want to place alternate grafts to improve your nasal breathing and appearance, such as alar batten grafts. Rhinoplasty grafts may also improve the asymmetry or crookedness of the nose.

Only after a comprehensive evaluation can a rhinoplasty surgeon help determine appropriate options for you. Best of luck.

Dr. Chaboki

Houtan Chaboki, MD
Washington DC Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 58 reviews

Spreader grafts, alar batten grafts for collapsed or narrowed nasal valve

Spreader grafts are grafts from septal cartilage or less commonly ear or rib cartilage which are placed between the upper lateral cartilage and the septum to widen the nasal valve.   This can improve breathing and also widen this area if there is a visible depression.   Spreader grafts can also help to straighten a crooked septum that has a high deviation and make the nose  straighter.   Alar batten grafts are grafts placed under the lateral crura to add more rigidity to this area if it is weakened (by surgery or naturally) and prevent collapse with inspiration.   Perhaps your surgeon is referring to this approach to fixing your nasal valve.  Most would agree the open approach is preferred in revision rhinoplasty but many surgeons also perform revisions closed.   It sounds like you need to have another discussion with your surgeon to get some of your questions answered. 

James C. Marotta, MD
Long Island Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.